On Monday, the news finally came to Iowa's cyclists.
No RAGBRAI in 2020.
The cross-state bike ride has been canceled this year due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, and the race will use the planned 2020 race course in 2021. Next year’s race is scheduled for July 25-July 31.
With events around the world getting canceled or postponed, all the way from the Olympics to last week’s cancellation of Iowa’s High School spring sports season, the news didn’t come as a surprise for North Iowa’s cycling community.
“It’s never a good thing when things get canceled, especially RAGBRAI, but you’ve got to be safe in these times right now,” Mohawk Mountain Bike Club coach Steve Bailey said. “We understand why they did it.”
The 2020 RAGBRAI was scheduled to start in Le Mars and finish in Clinton, with overnight stops in Storm Lake, Fort Dodge, Iowa Falls, Waterloo, Anamosa, and Maquoketa.
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In a statement, the organizers said that they understood the news was disappointing, but after consulting with business partners and health experts, canceling the 2020 event and bringing it back in 2021 was the safe option.
“The safety of our riders has always been the most important focus for our RAGBRAI team and we feel the decision to postpone to July 25 -31, 2021, is the right one. We strongly feel that this is in everyone’s best interest,” the organizers said. “RAGBRAI takes months of planning and preparation. Based on the extreme disruption COVID-19 has had and will have on the planning, we didn’t feel it was responsible to move forward and put the safety of our riders, crew, communities, or residents of Iowa at risk.”
Iowa's Ride, a competitor to RAGBRAI that is scheduled to have its inaugural ride in 2020, has not yet postponed its race.
"Our priority is to keep everyone safe," the organization said in a statement. "A bike ride is never that important. We also know that the start of Iowa’s Ride is still close to 3 months away, so it is still early to decide at this point. We will remain hopeful that the health risks will subside towards the end of summer. Again, our top priority is the safety of everyone involved in our inaugural event."
The Iowa's Ride race is still scheduled to take place from July 12-18, beginning in Dubuque and ending in Rock Rapids, with overnight stops in Monticello, Vinton, Eldora, Clarion, Emmetsburg and Sheldon.
The Mohawk Mountain Bike Club had two riders who planned to take part in RAGBRAI this year. Bailey still sees his athletes training and riding around town, but with many summer events canceled, the focus has turned to the fall CycloCross season.
The riders cannot train with their teammates due to social distancing restrictions, but the team hopes that it will be able to come together sometime in the summer.
"I just had one of our Mohawk mountain bike riders reach out to me this morning, asking what are some ideas for workouts that he can do by himself," Bailey said. "Everybody is still training, and we’re still hopeful that we can have something in late July or August. That's being hopeful."
RAGBRAI announced that riders who had signed up for the 2020 race can transfer their registration to 2021, or request a full refund. Racers who choose to transfer their registration will not be subject to the race lottery.